Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2007 Issue

<b>AE</b> Bibliographic Database Passes 1.5 Million Records

Lewis

Some recent AED records on early "Lewis and Clark" editions.


By Michael Stillman

The beginning of the new year marked a milestone here at the Americana Exchange. The crown jewel of our services, the Americana Exchange Bibliographic Database ("AED" for short), passed the 1.5 million record threshold. We are impressed by this achievement, as when the AE opened its doors in 2002, the database consisted of just 190,000 records. Of course a few readers, maybe even more than a few readers, may still be wondering "just what is the AE Database anyway?" We are glad you asked (even if you didn't). Hopefully, those of you who do not subscribe to the AED will read this article to see what it is, as someday you too may want to subscribe. There's nothing to lose by learning about it. That way, even if you choose not to subscribe, it will still be an educated decision.

Here, quickly then, is what it was and what it is today. The Americana Exchange Bibliographic Database was intended to be what the name suggests, a database of Americana bibliographies. It started with some of the most important of those, such as Sabin, Evans, Howes' USiana, and most of the very hard to find issues of the American Imprints Inventory. These are still in the AED, but the remaining 1,310,000 records cover a far more vast territory of collecting. We quickly outgrew the moniker "Americana," but once you choose a name, you are more or less stuck with it. Feel free to just call us "AE." That seems to work for "KFC" since they realized having "Fried" as a middle name wasn't such a good idea anymore.

What the AED is today is a collection of 1,500,000 records pertaining to books, manuscripts and ephemera. Some are from traditional bibliographies, but the great majority are now priced records, from auctions and classic booksellers' catalogues. "Priced" is the operative word here, because while standard bibliographies provide important information, the critical piece of data for many collectors and sellers is value. This is necessary data to buy and sell intelligently, yet it can be the most difficult piece of the puzzle to find.

Okay, I can hear some of you saying you can get your values from Abe. If it is a cheap, common title, you are probably right. If there are ten copies available on Abe for $1 each, you can readily estimate its value, confident that you are not off by more than a dollar. However, when it comes to collectible material, Abe pricing can be galaxies removed from reality, presuming the item is even offered on Abe. Often, the prices seen on Abe reflect what a book cannot be sold for, rather than what it can. That's why listings can stay there for an eternity. Anyone who relies on Abe pricing to price their own books for sale needs to be prepared to own them for a very long time. Anyone who relies on Abe pricing alone to purchase a valuable book is out of their mind.

At the heart of today's AED are auction records. The auction is the only true open market, the one place where the market determines a book's value. As anyone with a knowledge of elementary economics can attest, this is a book's monetary value, not some invented, possibly dreamland price pulled from thin air. If you want to know for what price a book is likely to sell in a reasonable amount of time, or what a rational price is to pay for one, there is no better guide than the auction. Sure you may be able to sell for more, you may be willing to pay more, but get too far out of line from the open market price and you are asking for heartbreak.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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